Before home buyers go shopping for a home, it is important to know what you can afford before you buy. It is becoming more common for home buyers to make an offer, get declined for the mortgage and the deal collapses. This is stressful for everyone involved, including the buyer, the seller and the realtor. Make it easier on yourself by understanding what you can afford and all your options first.
Always start by asking yourself “How much do I think I can reasonably afford to pay for my mortgage, taxes, strata and heating costs per month?” Then we can use that number and work backwards to see what you can afford within your budget. This approach can help to ensure that your monthly housing costs meet your means.
As a mortgage professional, we consider three things for mortgage approval, your credit history and score, your ability to make the mortgage payments (gross monthly income) and your monthly debt obligations (loans, credit cards, other mortgage payments, child support,etc). I also suggest buyers have a monthly amount in mind they feel comfortable paying for their mortgage, property taxes and strata fees. For example if your budget allows for $2,000 per month after we allow for $200 for property taxes each month and $300 for strata fees each month we have $1,500 per month left to cover the mortgage payment.
Even if you think you can afford that payment each month, the lender uses two simple calculations to determine the maximum mortgage and payment you can actually qualify for. The first calculation, your Gross Debt Service Ratio (GDS), requires your monthly housing costs (mortgage principal and interest, property taxes, and half of the monthly condo fee if you are purchasing a condominium) should not be more than 32% -39% of your gross monthly income. The second calculation requires your entire monthly debt load (including housing costs and other debts such as car loans and credit card payments) not exceed 40%-44% of your gross monthly income. This figure is your Total Debt Service ratio,(TDS). The range of debt servicing will depend on your credit score, so it is wise to estimate on the lower numbers to start. To qualify for $2,000 per month in payments you would need to earn at least $6200 per month gross (before taxes), which represents 32% of your income for the GDS. Any additional debt for loans and credit cards should then not exceed the 42% TDS limit.
Once you determine your fit within these limits, you can get some idea of your monthly payment. I can then determine the maximum mortgage added to your down payment to set the maximum purchase price and you will know what you can afford before you buy to avoid any last minute pitfalls in buying your home.
The mortgage pre-qualification process is as simple as completing an application online via our Dominion Lending Centres website and then a conversation to review – approval can happen on the same day and you can be on your way.
Thanks to my DLC colleague Pauline Tonkin for this article.